New forest tech centre at Grafton
Plantation investors, research organisations and timber companies are being encouraged to get involved in the new Forest Technology Centre in Grafton.
The centre will focus on tree improvement, propagation, plantation management and new technologies – all designed to deliver high value timber products.
Nearly 500 hectares of the 800-hectare site have been earmarked as trial plots and plantations so that scientists can pursue research on a range of species.
To make sure work carried out at the centre is relevant, NSW Department of Primary Industries wants industry to get involved by working with Forestry Corporation and investing in a range of projects that will help the industry grow, both on the North Coast and other parts of regional NSW.
A clonal seed orchard is being established to produce high quality seed far quicker than previous natural seed selection processes.
Forestry Corporation will expand its current nursery facilities to accommodate tree improvement programs and has committed $1.7 million to develop forestry research at the site over the next few years.
This includes constructing new high-tech buildings for the commercial scale production of hardwood species, using automatic fertilisation techniques and establishing purpose built clonal propagation and breeding facilities for the hardwood tree improvement program.
Minister for Natural Resources, Primary Industries and Mineral Resources, Ian Macdonald, hopes the centre will become a world leader in using science and technology to improve growth, quality and pest resistance in hardwood plantations.
"Forestry Corporation recently completed a detailed financial feasibility study that indicates the Forest Technology Centre will be a robust business and deliver solid returns for the industry and the communities that rely on a viable timber sector,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Ultimately, we want to help ensure the State’s forest industries are internationally competitive and have ready access to cutting edge developments.
“Through industry partnerships, we can explore even more research projects and keep the centre and its work thriving.”
This story appears in Agriculture Today.